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Tyler Bell in ‘surreal’ position as MLB draft approaches
(Courtesy: Lincoln-Way East High School)

Tyler Bell in ‘surreal’ position as MLB draft approaches

FRANKFORT, Ill. (BVM) – Tyler Bell began playing baseball as soon as he could walk, and it wasn’t long after that he realized his MLB dream. Now, Bell will likely hear his name called early in the upcoming 2024 MLB Draft.

“Ever since I can remember, that’s all I’ve thought about,” Bell said. “It’s pretty cool to be in this situation and showing all your hard work has paid off. There’s still a lot more work to be done, can get a lot better. But to just be in this position, it’s really surreal.”

Bell is currently ranked as a top-100 draft prospect who is expected to be taken within the first few rounds in July. It’s an opportunity the 6-foot-2, 190-pound infielder has worked hard for, and seeing his name amongst some of the best prospects in the country has also served as motivation.

“It’s extremely motivational for me,” Bell said. “That’s been a goal since I can remember to have this opportunity out of high school or out of college. Once you sit down and think about it, it’s crazy to even have this opportunity, but it almost pushes me even harder.

“I feel like the reaction is just going to be me knowing that all the hard work, all the long days, the late nights, early mornings, all of it is going to pay off.”

Bell’s baseball journey is about to reach a new level, but he likely wouldn’t be where he is today without learning the game from his father when he was little. 

“He’s been around baseball his whole life,” Bell said. “He’s taught me just about everything I know and helps me with everything now.”

One of the most important things his father taught him – which is also now one of the right-hander’s top attributes as a player – is being an effective switch-hitter.

“I would grunt at him and get mad because it felt uncomfortable,” Bell said. “I’m so happy he did that for me … It’s hard to manage sometimes. It’s a lot of swings, a lot of work. But it’s worth it in the long run.”

Bell also was a hockey player growing up, but his baseball talent continued to shine through during his youth while playing with the Mahomet Diamond Dogs just outside of Champaign. After his family moved north to Frankfort, Bell joined the Cangelosi Sparks, a program that has helped him flourish while also allowing him to gain more exposure.

“It’s been amazing,” Bell said about his time with the Sparks. “It’s kind of like family over there. Everybody wants the best for each other and tries to get it out of you every day.”

A lot of Bell’s exposure has also come through various showcases. He has impressed at multiple events over the past several months, including the inaugural Prep Baseball Report All-American game this past September which was played relatively close to home in Milwaukee at American Family Field.

“It was really fun playing against the best and competing with the best,” Bell said. “You can’t beat playing in a big-league stadium. They treated us amazing. Lot of fun just to hang out with those guys and obviously compete.”

Bell also had a chance to showcase his skills alongside many of the country’s top high school prospects at the Super 60 Showcase in February.

“That was also a really fun event, catching up with a lot of the guys I spent last summer with from across the country,” Bell said. “I performed pretty well there too.”

Meanwhile, the talented shortstop has also been one of the best high school players in Illinois at Lincoln-Way East over the past few years. Bell began his high school career at the JV level as a freshman and moved up to varsity as a sophomore while continuing to get better and stronger throughout the season.

That set the stage for a tremendous junior year where Bell hit .446 with nine home runs, 46 RBIs, 54 runs and 32 stolen bases. Maintaining a close team bond, the Griffins set a program record with 31 wins and claimed the program’s second-ever sectional title. Although their postseason run ultimately fell just short of state, it still produced plenty of lasting memories.

“That’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had playing for a team,” Bell said. “Last year was a year that I obviously stepped up and helped a lot. But up and down the order, everybody cared, everybody wanted it really bad. Having that kind of environment, that kind of team, made it really fun.”

The Griffins had a slow start to the 2024 season this spring but have turned things around since and have momentum on their side. Bell hopes that will translate into an even deeper postseason run before he concludes his prep career.

“I want to make a run again,” Bell said. “It was hard going home when we were very close to getting to state last year.

“We’re playing really good baseball right now. Just have to keep this up, keep playing good, bring everybody with you and see what happens at the end of the year.”

Once his high school career is finished, Bell will likely have a decision to make in regards to playing college baseball or immediately pursuing an MLB opportunity. 

Bell was originally committed to play college baseball at Pittsburgh as he dreamed of playing in the ACC or SEC someday. However, after the departure of a couple of recruiting coordinators and some players, Bell sought a new opportunity. 

Ultimately, that came with an SEC school, Kentucky, a program that also has a strong relationship with Bell’s travel team, the Cangelosi Sparks.

“I really wanted to challenge myself,” Bell said about his commitment to Kentucky. “It was pretty easy, not too stressful and worked out in the end.”

Should Bell go on to play in Lexington, he simply has one goal.

“Try to win a College World Series,” Bell said. “It looks like a fun program so it’s going to be a tough decision going into the summer.”

Regardless of where Bell’s journey takes him, he is prepared to enjoy the moment, but also realizes he is still far from being the player he ultimately hopes he becomes. While he’s heard many equate the MLB draft to Christmas Day, he knows that’s only step one of the process.

“That’s not the end,” Bell said. “You just have to keep working, keep outworking everybody, and one day the hard work will pay off. I try to block out the draft boards, all the rankings and all that. One day at a time. Get your work done that you need to every day and find a way to get better every single day.”

The future is bright for the talented shortstop in part thanks to his immense passion for the game. Eventually, he hopes that results in him achieving his ultimate goals at the highest level.

“I’ve just always had a love for the game and playing every single day,” Bell said. “I can’t get enough of it.

“I want to be an everyday starter and I want to try and win the World Series. I feel like I’m the kind of guy who always plays the game as hard as possible no matter if we’re up by 10 runs or down by 10 runs. I want to do that at the highest level and play the game the right way.”

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